North York

March 2020. The month when the Canadian Government issued a work-from-home notice to the populous. The Business Improvement, Information and Asset Management team (BIIAM) went home alongside all other non-essential workers in the organization. The direction to this day continues to be to work from home, where possible. But what happens for essential employees who must come into a workspace? Are they able to work in a safe environment? BIIAM supported Health and Safety in ensuring there were appropriate measures in place to promote the safety of staff working in regional buildings. by leveraging existing technology to develop Safe Space Promotion Plans. Fortunately, little changed concerning BIIAM’s use of ARCHIBUS with staff sent to work from home. BIIAM had the appropriate equipment to work off-premises well in advance of the pandemic.

Little changed with respect to our use of ARCHIBUS when staff were sent to work from home1


BIIAM is a team, within the Property Services Branch (PSB), that specializes in information and asset management for York Region’s facilities asset portfolio. PSB operates and maintains 265 of York Region’s facilities across 155 geographic locations. 

In support of these assets, BIIAM uses ARCHIBUS to manage over 4 Million gross square feet of digitized space and leverages the following components of ARCHIBUS: 

  • Space Inventory 
  • Space Occupancy 
  • Space Performance 
  • Building Operations 
  • Project Management
  • Asset Management
  • Incident Reporting 
  • Hoteling 
  • Room Reservations 

Over the past 13 years, Horizant and BIIAM have worked together to achieve many iterations of ARCHIBUS.


ARCHIBUS is an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). The software leverages existing building and asset data to assist facility managers in maintaining their portfolios. With 35 years of proven success and as the originators of IWMS technology, ARCHIBUS has unparalleled leadership in driving workplace performance alongside technology. ARCHIBUS is used in many leading organizations such as the City of Barrie, City of Hamilton, PWGSC, WorkSafeBC, and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Horizant Inc. 

Horizant bridges the organizational gap of Facilities Management, Human Resources and Information Technology through the implementation and support of an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). Horizant’s team of industry and subject matter experts guide clients through interactive collaborations, mentoring, business process reviews and best practice adoption techniques. Leveraging industry-leading platforms like Archibus, Horizant also assists with technology planning, implementation, and long-term support to ensure return on technology and process investment. 

Safe-Space Promotion Plans 

Initial Response 

The directive given to BIIAM was to design floor plans that would promote the safety of staff working in the office. The team knew that they needed to consider social distancing, traffic flow, frequent touch zones, and adhere to York Region Public Health guidelines. To support the development of a safe working environment for essential workers, a Safe Space Planning Working Group was established. The working group was made up of members from BIIAM, PSB, Health and Safety as well as other York Region staff. BIIAM leveraged ARCHIBUS Space Data to review the space portfolio and prioritize the development of the Safe Space Promotion Plans. 

A Safe Space Promotion Plan is a term, developed by the Safe Space Planning Working Group, to describe floorplans that promote the safe use of space. These plans illustrate safe seats, directional flow and the location of hand sanitizing stations which follow both the recommended Public Health guidelines as well as the criteria set out by the Safe Space planning Working Group.


BIIAM worked closely with Health and Safety to develop specific and repeatable criteria to develop the Safe Space Promotion Plans. In developing the criteria, they found it was easier to determine where they did not want people to sit. For example, safe seats were not located near high traffic corridors or in cubicles where the panel heights were not tall enough. Furthermore, physical-distancing requirements were considered even for when employees would be in transit, i.e., floorplans were designed to avoid having staff walk through another safe workspace to get to theirs Please refer to Appendix A for the entire set of criteria. 


BIIAM started by leveraging ARCHIBUS to archive original employee seating plans and room standards to ensure that this was documented and retrievable in the future. The team developed Safe Space Promotion Plans for each location- now they needed to compare occupancy to see which facilities could best accommodate the number of redeployed staff in response to the pandemic. Suitable locations depended on the size of the team, whether that team needed to be close to another team, or they had shift schedules and were located across the Region. Depending on the team’s situation, 1. Safe-Seats were assigned per person or 2. zones were established for teams to have shared desks. In some cases, spaces needed to accommodate growing teams.


BIIAM found that the design of the building and the furniture arrangement greatly impacted the number of safe seats that could be accommodated ..Safe-seating occupancy varied between 22% and 55% of the original occupancy. Once the Safe Space Promotion Plans were developed, they informed the number of staff that could be safely accommodated in that particular location. For example, if the Safe Space Promotion Plans identified 50 safe seats, only 50 staff were accommodated in that space at any given time. The team made the Safe Space Promotion Plans available for staff to access on an as-needed basis.  

Continued Response 

Continuing through the pandemic, Public Health Teams needed to redeploy into the York Region community, and suitable accommodation was required. Fortunately, BIIAM was able to enable hoteling functionality at five facility locations to accommodate them. At those 5 locations, approximately 25 hoteling stations deemed “safe” were reserved for the use of about 75 Public Health Nursing staff. 


During the pandemic, BIIAM provided trusted space inventory and occupancy data, which supported timely data-driven decisions. Moving forward, BIIAM will continue to leverage ARCHIBUS to support space initiatives as it currently stands with an eventual return-to-the workplace initiative. BIIAM’s current processes and data offer insight as to how many employees they can expect to invite back to the office- once given official direction to begin returning to the office. 

Ongoing initiatives include developing workplace booking functionality for workspace and meeting room bookings in support of the return to the workplace. 


Appendix A- Safe Seating Criteria 

Safe-Seat Criteria: 

  • 2.6m* diameter circle of personal space within the Safe-Seat location.  

Not a Safe-Seat Criteria: 

  • Panel height is less than 66” 
  • Workstations in high traffic corridors if panel height is less than 66” 
  • 6×6 workstations beside each other, regardless of panel height 
  • Workstations that require staff to walk through another person’s direct workstation to get to their own